TOKYO, Feb. 24, 2003 — On a visit to Japan today, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates planned to salute the launch of the Broadband School Consortium, an effort to provide students in Japan with broadband Web access in the nation’s public schools.
Bill Gates watches a student from Shohei Elementary School access the Internet via the new broadband network built with the support of Microsoft and other corporate members of the Broadband School Consortium. Click image for high-res version.
Speaking at the Shohei Elementary School in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, Gates was scheduled to voice Microsoft’s support for the Japanese government’s policy of ensuring that today’s students are well-versed in using technology to realize their goals.
Gates’ visit to Japan is the first leg of a four-day trip to Japan and China that includes stops in Tokyo and Beijing to meet with government leaders, Microsoft customers and partners, and the developer and academic communities.
Gates will simultaneously take questions from students at the Shohei school and — via a live broadband broadcast — from the Okayama City West Elementary School, which was the nation’s first elementary school to participate in the Broadband School Initiative.
“I’m so glad our children got a chance to meet Mr. Bill Gates, a leading expert in the computer industry. Besides, Im so impressed by his heart-felt speech for children to have big dreams and high hopes,” said Juji Tsuchiya, principal of Shohei Elementary School in Tokyos Chiyoda Ward. “I truly hope that children grow greatly in personal stature, making use of this experience in the future.”
The initiative is jointly supported by 18 major international technology firms — including Microsoft, NEC and HP — united under the banner
“Broadband School Consortium.”
The consortium was created to help the Japanese government deliver on its vision of creating connected schools for its students.
Earlier, Gates, in a videotaped statement on the creation of the technology-industry consortium in May 2002, Gates called the effort,
“a critical step in achieving the vision of the connected school, and it proves that international technology vendors, training organizations, and the international school community, including local education departments and government leaders, can make great progress. We really look forward to working with you in making this new era of digital tools a reality,”
Microsoft has donated copies of Windows XP and Office XP to support the program, and local Microsoft offices have been actively involved in planning the project with other members of the consortium.
The project’s goal is to equip all Japanese schools with wireless local-area networks that provide students with broadband access to the Internet via notebook computers. It will also develop IT-related study materials and provide training for teachers.
For this phase of the project, the Broadband School model will be applied to all thirteen elementary and junior high schools in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. Since the consortium began last May, the group conducted testing in two pilot schools, Nishi Elementary School and Houmei Elementary School in Okayama.
A Broadband School is one that is not equipped with permanent broadband Web access, but also one in which computers are used as everyday educational tools for all kinds of activities in ordinary classrooms. To this end, the consortium includes several education content providers to develop IT-related study materials and provide training for teachers.
The project was also designed to help teachers by improving communications with parents and make administrative tasks such as procurement of materials, preparation of schedules and class registration easier to complete, giving the teachers more time to focus on the students themselves.
“I believe education is the most important investment a country makes,”
Gates said last year.
“Access to technology opens up new possibilities to students.”